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07.27.20

[Meme] EPO Administrative Council Replaced One Dude With a Dud

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 8:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Destiny Hunter Hotline Template: a dude and a dud

Summary: The EPO‘s Administrative Council replaced one Benoît Battistelli with another (called António Campinos, a friend of Battistelli), so nothing is changing for the better

EPO Management Wants to Introduce ‘Code of Conduct’ With Which to Impose Censorship of Staff Representatives’ Communications With Staff

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet more censorship at the EPO (the term “Code of Conduct” is used), where Techrights is still blocked for providing accurate information to EPO staff

António the unsteady

Summary: António is still “unready” for real dialogue (more than two years later!) and he’s still exploring new ways to keep EPO staff misinformed

“Dialogue with a drug addict” is what our source called the following publication from the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO (not SUEPO), echoing the nickname “powder nose”. The other day an EPO insider spoke of “[a] “riffle man” Battistelli and “powder nose” Campinos.”

Certainly not alluding to drug use, albeit considering this rumour about an incident on a plane last summer there might be a drinking problem. The term “drug addict” refers to the behaviour rather than anything that staff representatives saw and here’s what they circulated a few days ago, having met António Streisand-Campinos 12 days ago (Streisand as in ‘Streisand Effect’):

Report on the meeting with the President

of 16 July 2020

“Social dialogue is when you listen to me.”

Mr Campinos invited the newly elected Staff representatives of the central (CSC) and local Staff committees (LSCs) for an inaugural meeting which took place by video-conference. Mr Campinos set the tone of his presidency for the next 3 years to come by stating his readiness to push his coming reforms concerning the Education and Childcare allowances, the Appeals Committee (ApC) and the New Normal.

“Social dialogue is when you listen to me”
Mr Campinos initiated the meeting by explaining the “rules of engagement” of his model of “social democracy”. According to him, social dialogue is not co-decision and it is the Office which has the power of making proposals. These proposals will be sent to “Working Groups” and the GCC, where the Staff representation can give its opinion, and may in the end be amended or not amended: “If we all understand these rules, then we can have social dialogue”. Although the Staff representation didn’t ask for it, Mr Campinos added that in his view co-decision cannot work, and the “Staff representation has the right to listen, to think and to give comments”.

We explained that we request early involvement in the preparation of reforms and that we never asked for co-decision, but Mr Campinos did not acknowledge the difference.

Education allowance – A consultation as short as the summer holidays
Mr Campinos explained that the topic of the Education Allowance is “an important and a sensitive one to be handled with care”. However, the consultation had not even started, yet the final GCC meeting had already been scheduled for the 1st of October. This fast timeline clearly aims at putting the negatively affected parents in front of a fait-accompli once they are back from their summer vacation. Mr Campinos’ intention to define a flat rate on the reimbursements will definitely impact the International Schools (mostly in The Hague) and the (private) crèches, and is anything but fair.

Career system and PhD recognition
Mr Campinos plans to standardise a “catch-up measure” for those deprived of pensionable rewards and to recognise PhD experience. As a prerequisite, Mr Campinos puts forward his principle of “affordability”. As the analysis of Ernst & Young has proven, this principle is based on a Financial Study which distorts the EPO finances with the purpose to reduce Staff benefits.

Travel budget
All meetings must continue to take place via video-conference. Until end of 2020 travels will remain extremely exceptional and the 2021 travel budget will be dramatically reduced.

Appeals Committee – Still room for improvement
Mr Campinos intends to address the question of a potential conflict of interest of the nominees sitting in the Appeals Committee (ApC). The proposal would allow that the nominees of the Staff representation may be chosen among all Staff, and not only among elected Staff representatives. This was a long standing request of the Staff representation.

However, the proposal he puts forward also prescribes that members of the ApC may not have pending appeals during their term. This would put our nominees in the following dilemma: either they will have no pending internal appeal or their term of office in the ApC will end. In our opinion, this requirement could make it very easy for the Office to get rid of nominees and could endanger their independence. We acknowledge the problem of a potential conflict of interest but believe that a better solution must and can be found.

Mass-emails for Staff representatives – A proposal devoid of any real effect
Since 2013 both the Staff representation and SUEPO have been deprived of free access to mass-emails, a unique situation in the world of international organisations. Mr Campinos declared that he is ready to make a proposal for Staff committees but set out three conditions: 1) No access to push emails, only pull access requiring explicit request from individual Staff members and the possibility to opt-out anytime, 2) A “supervisory committee” will check compliance with the EPO code of conduct – and be ready to enforce them, and 3) Establishment of a code of conduct on how to write mass emails. These conditions, if implemented as stated, actually make the proposal devoid of any real effect. Staff already has access to pulled information via the RSS feeds and our publication requests are already routinely checked and may eventually be censored.

Five year contracts – To be or not to be permanent
By the end of 2021, Mr Campinos plans to establish “clear and transparent” guidelines for the renewal of 5-year contracts, and their conversion to permanent contracts. We hope that Mr Campinos and his administration take this topic serious and for once provide guidelines that are clear and supportive to our colleagues with the aim of having a committed work force for the future of the EPO.

New Normal – Staff is the last stakeholder
A first draft on the New Normal is already available but won’t be presented to Staff or Staff representation until after Mr Campinos has reviewed the result of a Staff survey planned in September and consulted all external stakeholders and the Member States. This should be interpreted as Mr Campinos’ clear answer to our request for early involvement.

Conclusion
To conclude, Mr Campinos declared that social dialogue will be successful if everyone sticks to his role. He considers himself as being the one in charge of social dialogue. The site managers and the Vice-Presidents shall be met for local issues only, and “not to be addressed on the same issues again and again”. Despite some efforts on our part during the meeting to restart social dialogue, the President still does not clearly acknowledge the full meaning of genuine social dialogue.

In any case, we will continue to work for Staff’s rights and the mission of the EPO during the next three years. We are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration with the President and we would like to assure you that we will tirelessly insist upon transparency, honesty, integrity and professionalism. We will keep an eye on Office decisions and policies. We will shed light on changes, question in detail the actions of the administration and inform Staff accordingly, for the best of the Staff and the Office.

The Central Staff Committee

In short, not much has changed more than two years since Streisand-Campinos replaced Benoît Battistelli. SUEPO said “we are back to Battistelli’s times” and an upcoming survey shows that Streisand-Campinos is even less popular/trustworthy than Battistelli (after two years in charge of the Office). No wonder internal sources of ours say that EPO insiders already explore careers outside the EPO, seeing impending layoffs and institutional collapse. This can really hurt Europe. The conspicuous lack of media coverage and absence of oversight led to it.

Contrary to Common Myths, Free Software and GNU/Linux Are Typically Way Ahead of Proprietary Software (Which Copies and Then Patents)

Posted in Apple, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But there’s no time to properly assess prior art and GNU/Linux sites like Techrights are blocked by the European Patent Office (EPO)

Office Poznan

Summary: Examiners are urged/pressured to assess so-called ‘inventions’ in the domain of software; not only are these not patentable (patent-ineligible) but most of the time they’re not novel either (the real inventors never patented these and would not bother, either)

THE TRUTH of the matter is, software patents should not be granted in Europe. But corrupt management nowadays compels examiners to do so anyway; both António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli block Techrights and, as Florian Müller pointed out half a decade ago, this means that they limit examiners’ access to prior art. What kind of patent office is this? Great Firewall of China? Eponia’s copy of it?

Free software enthusiasts will likely be able to explain the history of GNU, which predates Linux by nearly a decade. Well before Windows 95 or even Windows 3.11 (when the monopoly started to gather momentum) there were already decent systems, both from the GNU and BSD camps (the UNIX/POSIX realm). There was also Apple, but it was very expensive. Nowadays it seems increasingly evident that Apple and Microsoft mostly imitate and rarely innovate; but guess who gets the patents at the end? The first to apply, not the first to implement or ‘invent’…

A meme with examples:

Star Trek Vs MCU superheroes: I now have a 'dark mode'; GNU/Linux did that in the 1991-95 era; You can now install anything from one place; Ever heard of apt-get? We only have $100,000,000,000 in debt and 100,000 patents; We borrow and patent nothing

“We borrow and patent nothing…”

That sums it up.

Free software isn’t crafted based on proprietary code, whereas the opposite is sometimes true. Companies like Apple and Microsoft habitually ‘borrow’ code that’s Free/libre to craft proprietary ripoffs. The opposite isn’t possible, at least not legally, and it’s easy to get caught; it’s almost unavoidable because a Free software developer’s code lays bare for all to see (and for companies to compare to their own). Remember the SCO lawsuit? How did that work out for SCO?

Software patents are in general a very dumb idea because software changes very fast and things are copied a lot, typically without it infringing any law. It’s time to put an end to such patents, completely.

Golden Cages Are Still Cages and Working From Home Can Become a Legal Mess

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even the most luxurious cages still restrict one’s most fundamental freedoms (ILO is still way behind wrt legal protections/safeguards for workers, just as FSF is failing to catch up with “clown computing” as a threat to users)

A wireless home office

Summary: There seems to be a misconception about working from home as emancipation and freedom enablement; legal issues aside, the reality is a lot more intricate than this

HAVING spoken to a number of people who work “remotely” (from home, i.e. locally) and having read about experiences of EPO workers, it seems clear that most employers typically want something in return for the ‘favour’ of “remote work” (like decrease in compensation or longer working hours/availability). Benoît Battistelli canceled many holidays and António Campinos gets people to work all night long while home-schooling/teaching. There’s no time off per se; people are always ‘at work’ (granting lots of patents of questionable quality, e.g. software patents that even the USPTO can no longer grant so easily, thanks primarily to Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101)

“It does not matter if one works from the garden or the garage or the bedroom, basement, home office etc. The rules remain pretty much the same and — to use EPO terminology — “production targets” stay the same.”I’ve just posted a little prose about “Glass and Metal Cages” or cheaply-made office buildings designed to accommodate people quite densely in an ‘open’ office where nobody has any form of intimacy (nothing discreet even when speaking on the phone or sneezing). It’s a rant about both “remote work” and “in-office work”; in both contexts labour forces tend to be exploited and abused, one way or another. Some argue that once they lose the separation between work and personal life it has a devastating effect on appetite, health, relationships and psychology. This is most likely to get yet worse, over time. Just as employees are adapting to the new conditions so do employers (bosses), looking for new and ‘innovative’ ways to spy on staff and oppress/suppress interaction with one’s surroundings… in one’s private space. It does not matter if one works from the garden or the garage or the bedroom, basement, home office etc. The rules remain pretty much the same and — to use EPO terminology — “production targets” stay the same. The stress and the fear are still there; one doesn’t leave them behind when finishing work and leaving the office to commute back home.

Peter Parker eating a hot dog: Going back home... ...I mean, back to work

Now comes the use and misuse of technology; when working from home one relies on an Internet connection (typically) and access to data, even confidential data. In a lot of cases people ‘take home’ with them a lot of sensitive data and there’s no oversight; that’s certainly true in today’s Facebook. And when taking espionage (government or corporate) into account things get creepier. On the other hand, there are those who work from home and stream over the Web — even against their will — audio and video from their private space. That data passes through companies whose employees are in the “surveillance capitalism” business (like Microsoft processing EPO tribunal streams). Certainly this is not legal, but EPO management does anything it wants anyway and always gets away with it. Many legal questions are still ‘up in the air’, mostly undealt with because “it’s an emergency” and a “crisis” (they tell us). As if not granting patents for a few months would cause the sky to fall…

Glass and Metal Cages

Posted in Finance at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tall offices/office buildings

Summary: Work harder, work faster, your home is your new cage

THE joys of the office
With its corporate trophies
The suits and the ties
The keyboards and mice

The pleasure of work
Canteens that served pork
Conference rooms emptied
To lay off they hurried

Profits are paramount
What do moan about?
Here, have a payrise
By Christmas you’re fired; oh hey, surprise!

Just chugging along in your cage with your chair
Half your life gone, but that’s only fair
COVID has come, your pension has left
Taken away by professionals, which means it’s not theft

Gone is the tower, lease not renewed
No more this workplace, we don’t provide food
Surveillance to follow, we’ll follow you around
Turn on the microphone, at home you have sound

Lady at office

Conditions erode, but it’s OK, this is global
Be thankful you’re alive, that’s the sum total
Work until midnight, overnight if you can
We’ll provide a mask, that alone will keep you sane

Office space found its own cannon fodder
Who needs labour protection, who needs law and order?
The profits may plummet, your salary will too
Lawyers are pricey, so we don’t expect you to sue

2020 vision, hearing loss assured
Visiting the doctor at this time is absurd
Work harder, work faster, the home is your cage
Turn on the webcam, with colleague you must engage

In come the spouse, out goes the kid
Don’t get distracted, or of you we’ll get rid
Work is life when life is work
You sleep on your desk, you eat without fork

Remote work is pleasure, we do you a favour
At these times we cannot compensate you for the extra endeavour
Work harder, work faster, the home is your cage
It’s quarter past midnight, turn to the next page

Links 27/7/2020: Mozilla Firefox 79 and Enlightenment DR 0.24.2

Posted in News Roundup at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • The 6 Best Open Source Web Servers

        Apache HTTP Server, colloquially known as Apache or httpd in Red Hat distributions is a free and opensource web server developed by Apache Software Foundation under Apache License version 2. Released in 1995, Apache has grown in leaps and bounds to become one of the most popular and widely used web servers, powering over 37% of all the websites.

        Apache is written in C language and is a highly customizable webserver thanks to its tons of modules that extend the web server’s functionality. These include mod_file_cache for caching, mod_ftp to provide FTP support for file uploads and downloads, and mod_ssl that allows support for SSL / TLS encryption protocols, and many more.

        Additionally, given its rich set of modules, Apache provides multi-protocol support such as both IPv4 and IPv6 support and the commonly used HTTP, HTTP/2, and HTTPS protocols.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.8-rc7
        
        So the week started very calm, and almost three quarters of the
        changes then coming in Friday and now during the weekend.
        
        Which isn't unusual, but the end result this time is that rc7 is
        slightly larger than I'd like.
        
        Nothing looks all that worrisome (the only bigger part is some fixes
        to the atomisp driver, and that does account for a fair chunk of the
        rc7 size, both in commits and diff),.
        
        But it *might* mean that an rc8 is called for. It's not like rc7 is
        *big* big. We've had bigger rc7's. Both 5.3 and 5.5 had bigger rc7's,
        but only 5.3 ended up with an rc8.
        
        Put another way: it could still go either way.  We'll see how this
        upcoming week goes.
        
        In the meantime, please do go out and test.  Ignoring that atomisp
        chunk, it's mostly various drivers (networking, habanalabs, misc),
        some core networking fixes, and other small random noise. None of it
        is big.
        
        Shortlog appended.
        
                       Linus
        
      • Linux 5.8-rc7 Released – Coming In Slightly Larger Than Normal

        Linus Torvalds has performed his usual Sunday dance and released the Linux 5.8-rc7 kernel as one of the final test releases before Linux 5.8 is declared stable in August.

        While on an optimal cadence there is the stable release one week after the -rc7 tag, Linus isn’t yet decided whether next weekend will see the Linux 5.8 debut. Due to Linux 5.8-rc7 coming in “slight larger” than normal at this stage, he hasn’t yet determined if that will mean Linux 5.8-rc8 comes next Sunday or can go ahead and release Linux 5.8 stable. He’s playing it by year and will watch the patch flow over the next week.

      • Kernel prepatch 5.8-rc7

        The 5.8-rc7 kernel prepatch is out for testing; Linus is unsure about whether things are slowing down enough or not. “But it *might* mean that an rc8 is called for. It’s not like rc7 is *big* big. We’ve had bigger rc7′s. Both 5.3 and 5.5 had bigger rc7′s, but only 5.3 ended up with an rc8. Put another way: it could still go either way. We’ll see how this upcoming week goes.”

      • Linux documentation switches to HTTPS to boost security

        Several commits have been made to the Linux kernel in recent days and weeks which switch links in the kernel’s documentation from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol. According to commit logs made by Alexander Klimov, the switch to HTTPS should reduce the likelihood of man-in-the-middle attacks against kernel developers.

        To ensure that links do not break when switched to the more secure protocol, tests were run to ensure pages loaded in the same manner. While it’s a welcome change which should boost the security of the whole Linux community, the move is a proactive one according to Phoronix which said that there has been no sign of any kernel developers being attacked recently via URLs.

      • Linux Kernel Prepping To Make Use Of Intel’s New SERIALIZE Instruction

        As outlined a few months ago, Intel’s future Sapphire Rapids and Alder Lake processors are set to add a SERIALIZE instruction. That SERIALIZE instruction ensures all flags/register/memory modifications are complete as well as draining all buffered writes to memory before the next instruction is executed. Linux is moving forward with preparing to make use of this new CPU instruction in its function for stopping speculative execution and prefetching of modified code.

        On Sunday a patch series was sent out by an Intel Linux engineer for making use of the Intel SERIALIZE instruction within the kernel’s sync_core() function. Linux’s sync_core function is called for stopping the speculative execution and prefetching of modified code.

      • MikroBUS Patches Being Worked On For Better Supporting These Add-On Boards Under Linux

        MikroBUS is the open add-on board standard aiming for “maximum expandability with the smallest number of pins”. MikroBUS already has fairly robust industry support particularly in the embedded space while finally a mikroBUS mainline kernel driver may be near for Linux to improve the status quo of driver support.

        MikroBUS supports I2C, SPI, UART, PWM, reset, interrupt, +3.3V and +5V power, and other capabilities for this interface intended for embedded peripherals. Some mikroBUS add-on boards already have mainline Linux kernel support but due to DeviceTree handling and the like it’s rather a support mess right now while this new patchwork should much improve the ecosystem.

      • Graphics Stack

        • DragonFlyBSD Updates Its Intel + Radeon Linux-Ported Graphics Driver Code

          DragonFlyBSD developer François Tigeot continues his trek of near single-handedly porting the Intel and Radeon DRM graphics driver code from the Linux kernel to this BSD.

          For years now Tigeot has been working on bringing the Direct Rendering Manager code from the Linux kernel to that of the DragonFlyBSD kernel and all the headaches involved from interface differences to porting other Linux kernel bits where needed.

        • LuxCore Open-Source Renderer v2.4 Released With CUDA Support, Better Windows Scaling

          Debuting this weekend was LuxCoreRender 2.4, the newest version of this impressive open-source physically based renderer.

          Most significant to LuxCoreRender 2.4 is that NVIDIA’s CUDA is now supported alongside the OpenCL and CPU-based render paths. Using this CUDA support for LuxCoreRender can lead to speed-ups for NVIDIA GPUs and has seemingly come together well over the past few months. This code also supports out-of-core CUDA rendering for being able to render scenes larger than what can fit in the available video RAM. With this additional back-end there is also now support for building the LuxCoreRender SDK without OpenCL or CUDA but to then load that support at run-time.

        • SWVKC Is A Vulkan-Powered Wayland Compositor Focused On Performance + Correctness

          While the current Vulkan API is exhaustive enough to implement full-featured Wayland compositors and X11 window managers, to date there hasn’t been too much adoption considering OpenGL is still more pervasive among hardware/drivers and it’s obviously a significant effort writing a new compositor from scratch. One of the leading (among few) examples of a Vulkan-powered window manager / compositor is ChamferWM, which does continue to be developed. SWVKC meanwhile is one that has been seeing development this year as an alpha-stage Wayland Vulkan compositor.

          SWVKC is a Wayland compositor focused on performance and correctness over features. SWVKC tries to maximize use of direct scan-out of client buffers when possible in the name of greater performance. SWVKC still tries though to avoid screen tearing or stuttering and adhere to the Wayland protocol specification in a strict manner.

    • Benchmarks

      • The New OpenBenchmarking.org Is Launching Soon

        Set to be formally introduced next quarter alongside Phoronix Test Suite 10.0 is the long-overdue overhaul of OpenBenchmarking.org — the biggest upgrade to our public “cloud” platform for benchmark aggregation and result analytics since its debut nearly one decade ago. Before then, a public beta of OpenBenchmarking.org should get underway in the next few weeks while here is an early look at some of the changes.

    • Applications

      • aaPanel – An Open Source Alternative For cPanel

        cPanel is the control panel for web hosting built by cPanel LTD. In the last article of the Linux cPanel series, I reviewed Virtualmin, a popular, free, and open-source control panel. aaPanel is also a free and open-source control panel for Linux. It’s easy to install & all the web hosting options are well-categorized for easily managing websites and databases.

        cPanel is a very popular control panel for web hosting. Most web hosting companies including Hostgator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy provide cPanel to easily perform tasks on servers. But, it is not free.

        In this series, I am hunting down the best open source control panels for web hosting. aaPanel is one of such hosting panels that provides an easy to use GUI interface with a great number of options and security features.

        First of all, aaPanel is easily installable. It provides a single script to be run on a newly created server. The script installs all the tools, dependencies, and sets up a user account to log in.

        It is highly recommended that you run the script on a fresh system. Still, if you want to run it on a server that already has a few user-installed programs running, use the –force option when executing the script. Anyway, enough talk. Let’s do some practical.

      • Nextcloud and OpenID-Connect

        If you looked at the Nextcloud app store you could already find OpenID-Connect connectors before but since Nextcloud 19 it is an officially supported user back-end. So it was time for me to have a closer look at it and to try it out.

      • Trying OKD4: home lab needs to grow

        I’ve spent last week tinkering with OKD4, which is open source base for OpenShift. OpenShift in turn is Red Hat’s distribution of Kubernetes. Such opensource/commercial differentiation is quite popular among Red Hat products. OKD/OpenShift relation is like AWX/Ansible Tower, Spacewalk/Satellite, WildFly/JBoss, oVirt/RHEV etc.

        I already had previous version deployed – 3.11, then called Origin, not OKD. My cluster consists of two old ThinkPads and a virtual machine, and I was planning to redeploy OKD4 on them. But first some PoC on virtual machines.

        So I started with minimal viable cluster – 3 schedulable master nodes. (There’s a Code Ready Containers version, too – 1 node cluster, but it’s non-upgradable). Requirements table looks scary – 4 CPU cores and 16GiB per master – but that’s probably an overkil, right?

      • Sigil 1.3.0

        Sigil is a free, open source, multi-platform ebook editor. It is designed to edit books in ePub format (both ePub 2 and ePub 3). It also provides features for advanced users, like direct XHTML, CSS and XPGT editing. You can use it to add any of the metadata entries supported by the EPUB specification and create a hierarchical Table of Contents.

      • Excellent System Utilities: glances – CLI curses-based monitoring tool

        Essential System Utilities is a series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table in the summary section.

        Glances is a cross-platform system monitoring tool written in Python.

        We’ve already featured gtop in this series. Why feature an alternative? Because Linux is about freedom and having a genuine range of alternatives? Or it’s because Glances is an excellent tool for system administrators that offers a vast array of information all in one central place.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Core i3 10100 vs. Core i5 10600K vs. Ryzen 3 3300X Linux Gaming Benchmarks

        Last month on Phoronix were 350+ benchmarks of the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X vs. Intel Core i3 10100, including a number of Linux gaming performance tests. Following that I also ran some tests with the Core i5 10600K tossed in for those that may be weighing between the Ryzen 3 / Core i3 vs. Core i5 for gaming. Here are those additional data points.

        Last month after that head-to-head comparison with 350+ Linux benchmarks in total, for the gaming subset I also ran additional tests of the Core i5 10600K on the same system and same driver configuration. I lost track of posting those numbers until coming across them again this weekend, so for those interested, here is an overview of the results and they can all be found in full via OpenBenchmarking.org.

      • Vim Games – Games You Can Play with the Vim Editor

        Among all the text editors out there, Vim (stands for VI improved) is one of the elites. Vim is quite a popular text editor and is available on almost all platforms (Windows, Linux, macOS, BSD, and others), but is most popular on Linux. This text editor comes with tons of features and is a clear rival to paid text editors.
        Despite being incredibly powerful, Vim is famous (infamous, to be exact) for having a steep learning curve, especially for novice users. There are numerous commands and shortcuts that Vim comes with by default. Keeping track of these commands can prove to be a difficult task.

        This is where Vim games come in. These are fun games designed to teach Vim to anyone, especially novice users. Even if you are a Vim master, you can check these games out just for fun. Practicing the basics never hurts!

      • 3D rail shooter ‘Ex-Zodiac’ is a Kickstarter success and coming to Linux PC

        With inspiration coming from classics like Star Fox, the in-development 3D rail shooter ‘Ex-Zodiac’ managed to get quite a bit of funding with the Kickstarter now complete.

        2,181 backers pledged around £50,036 to help make this Godot Engine powered shooter a reality, which is quite a bit over the initial £20,000 goal set. Unlike a lot of other Kickstarters, the developer Ben Hickling did not set a bunch of wild extra stretch-goals, as all money will go towards just finishing it and making it a good game. Going by the demo they released which is still up on Steam, it was mighty impressive.

      • Mixing together Minesweeper with a roguelite, DemonCrawl is coming to Linux

        Therefore Games have announced that their popular roguelite puzzler DemonCrawl is coming to Linux, and it’s currently in Beta with a release due in a few weeks. I’ve not played this one myself yet but it does look quite fun. The basic idea of Minesweeper, with roguelite and RPG mechanics thrown in with hundreds of unique items, stages, and abilities.

      • Ron Gilbert, developer of Thimbleweed Park is switching to Linux

        Ron Gilbert is a name most in the game industry will know from the likes of Thimbleweed Park, and earlier works like The Cave while at Double Fine and they were even the producer on my all-time favourite RTS Total Annihilation. It appears Gilbert is attempting to switch to Linux.

        Terrible Toybox, the actual team behind Thimbleweed Park are working on a new game and game engine too. They released Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure in May 2020, as a small standalone title that acts as a prototype for their newer game engine. They even put up the source code for the Delores game on GitHub, although it’s not under an open source license. It doesn’t support Linux yet but that appears to be planned.

        So what’s the fuss about? They’re switching their development flow to Linux and they’ve started blogging about the adventure too with a first post about their new hardware a few days ago. Seems they’ve settled on Ubuntu Budgie.

      • Strange Brigade, Sniper Elite 4 and SUPERHOT: MCD coming to Stadia

        Google have confirmed even more games coming to Stadia, their Linux-powered game streaming service that works on Linux in a Chromium / Chrome browser.

        Firstly they announced SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete, a recent release which is actually available on the Linux desktop and a thoroughly enjoyable action game. Time barely moves until you move, it’s great and I can imagine such a game actually working quite well on Stadia.

        Additionally Sniper Elite 4, the ‘largest and most advanced World War 2 shooter ever built’ is also confirmed to be coming from Rebellion. Sniper Elite 4 gives you a lot of freedom in how you play, which is part of the appeal along with the big levels and ‘genre-defining rifle ballistics’ making you take into account wind, gravity and more. It will have single-player, co-op and competitive multiplayer.

      • Wonderful adventure game Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is now fully voiced

        Originally launching in September 2019 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, the mystery adventure Jenny LeClue – Detectivu just got a huge upgrade.

        This Kickstarter had a stretch goal on it for voice acting, a funding goal that was actually hit. Seeing it release without it was a bit of a let-down but the game as a whole was still thoroughly wonderful. As of July 24 2020, the voices are finally in and they sound brilliant. It appears they picked some great voice talent for it and it really does make an absolute world of difference to a game like this. Makes it go from good to great instantly.

      • You can now get the enhanced SpaceChem Community Edition on Steam

        SpaceChem, the classic Zachtronics design-based puzzle game not only got a sweet update recently to improve the tech behind the game, it’s also now super easy to grab the updated community version.

        There’s no doubt that SpaceChem is a good game, if you’re a fan of puzzle games that require you to design special solutions across mind-bending puzzles it’s a great choice. It is missing some features though that they added to their later games, like allowing you to keep multiple solutions to each puzzle to test more easily.

        Some time ago the SpaceChem Community Edition was announced, with approval from Zachtronics a few dedicated people banded together to upgrade the game with an unofficial patch. With blessing from Zachtronics, it’s now being distributed directly on Steam. All you need to do is opt into the ‘community-edition’ Beta by right clicking the game on Steam, going to Properties and then select it in the Betas tab.

      • Looks like Steam is getting a ‘Playtest’ feature for some developers

        Valve are always upgrading the Steam store and it appears another new feature has begun rolling out, at least in a limited form with official playtests.

        Currently, if developers want to let people try the game before release they hand out special Beta keys. It’s a messy system, and has in the past caused all sorts of issues with Beta keys being handed out incorrectly with keys being revoked that shouldn’t have been and more. It’s taken a long time, around five years or so since hints of it appeared but they’ve now apparently shipped a new ‘Playtest’ feature on Steam.

      • Free to play sandbox MMO ‘Wurm Online’ has launched on Steam

        Something of a classic, the free to play survival MMO ‘Wurm Online’ that originally launched in 2012 is now available to play on Steam. Compared to Wurm Unlimited, which is the standalone paid version, Wurm Online is firmly controlled by the developers so you join their big servers.

        [...]

        They’ve already added in a new PvE server named Melody, to give players more fresh land to explore due to so many players jumping into their main servers. Hopefully it’s not as painful as my experience in Wurm Unlimited, although looking at the initial set of user reviews it doesn’t really sound like they’ve done much to improve Wurm Online for a Steam release.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Enlightenment DR 0.24.2 Release

        Fixed null exec command running
        Fixed handling of screen with no edid
        Fixed signal.h, execinfo.h include for some libc’s
        Sped up pager thumb loading significant;y
        Handle zone changes during startup
        Longer efreetd timeout for update event
        Fixed e’s xsettings support on 64bit to use the right types
        Fixed preloading of icon
        Fixed e’s wl backlight/dimming logic to be correct and reliable
        Fixed noisy logging on invalid exec handle found
        Fixed shot blurriness if size didn’t quite match
        Fixed battery on openbsd to use right constants
        Fixed cpu freq setting on freebsd etc.
        Handle error exits from dependency libs as an error and bring up alert
        E system – isolate stdio so it doesn’t affect ipc on stdin/out
        Polkit & Askpass password – handle escaping right
        Fix tiling issue with float/unfloat
        Fixed shell autohide when clock data up
        Handle x io error with proper exit code and exit

      • Enlightenment 0.24.2 Released with Bug Fixes, Updated Terminal App

        I’m not entirely sure why I write about new releases of the Enlightenment desktop as and when they materialise but I do — as this post attests!

        I guess long-term my plan is to kick the tires on a recent build of Enlightenment (likely via the terrific Ubuntu-based Bodhi Linux distro, though it’s also available on BSD). Y’know: to see what’s-what, write my thoughts up, and/or make a video (or both. Probably both).

        But for now I just gawk at screenshots and ferry word on its changes.

        Building on spring’s big Enlightenment 0.24 release comes version 0.24.2.

        Now, there’s nothing particularly notable about the changes bundled inside of this second point release, but its welcome all the same (and the road to Enlightenment is paved with, er, patches…? Not sure where I’m going with that).

      • Enlightenment 0.24.2, Terminology 1.8 Released

        Even without the Samsung OSG support these days, the Enlightenment project continues making nice progress.

        Enlightenment DR 0.24.2 was released today and with it comes several fixes, much faster thumbnail loading for pager, fixed the preloading of icons, various BSD fixes, and a variety of other fixes.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: Artix Linux 20200125

          This is one of the lesser known distributions but it has garnered quite a few fans in its relatively short existence. Artix Linux, from hereon Artix in short, has a reader supplied rating of 8.4 as an average of 94 opinions on DistroWatch at the time of writing, which isn’t bad for a distribution that is slightly more involved in terms of technical knowledge and experience a user should possess. Not to discourage the curious and the newcomers, but it is not an install and forget type of Linux though not really that hard to use either.

          Artix is a systemd-free fork of Arch Linux that grew out of the Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC projects joining forces to provide installable images with alternative init solutions to Arch users who were unhappy with the parent moving to systemd. In fact, Arch was one of the early adopters. While in the beginning only OpenRC might have been offered, Artix now also provides install images using the runit and s6 init software, “because PID1 must be simple, secure and stable.” [1] There’s great variety and choice on the download page, but only the x86_64 architecture is supported. The project provides Artix base images of 520MB each, similar to a net-install or the Arch install image, and with Cinnamon, MATE, Plasma, Xfce, LXDE and LXQt ISO files for almost every major desktop environment. They weigh in between 939MB and 1.1GB depending on your chosen flavour. The page makes it clear what to expect with these, i.e. only a basic set of applications is included to get the user started: a file manager, a media player (MPV), a network manager, a document viewer, a web browser and the graphical installer. It is then up to us to add applications and shape the system to our needs and liking.

          There are also community supported images labelled community-gtk and community-qt which are much larger at 2.3GB and 2.8GB respectively.

          You can get every flavour with any of the three supported init systems. Official images seem to be respun now and then. At the time of writing most stable images are dated from February 2020, with the Xfce ISO labelled 20200506 apparently released in May. Further down the page there are also weekly snapshots that I guess incorporate the latest package updates, and testing images for GNOME and i3, again for all three init systems. That’s a huge library to maintain and gives us a hint of how dedicated folks behind this project are. Should you have trouble with the latest version a few older ISOs have been archived and are accessible at the bottom.

      • BSD

        • Checking Out FuryBSD 12.1, KDE Edition

          FuryBSD is a relatively young project that is offering live systems using either KDE Plasma or the Xfce environment for the x86_64 architecture based on FreeBSD that can be installed from the desktop once booted up. This sounds quite appealing after having had good experiences with GhostBSD which is also based on FreeBSD and I was looking forward to check out a clean system using KDE.

          Years ago I had tried the now discontinued PC-BSD with KDE but it seemed heavy and bloated. The website also looks lean, nice and professional, promising a “powerful, portable FreeBSD desktop” so expectations were up. Time to get the ISO. The last release is 12.1 and as indicated I opted to download the Plasma edition over Xfce. The file is 3.2 GB in size. If that is a problem or takes too long on a slow connection the Xfce edition comes in at a more manageable 1.6 GB. The file was then written to USB key. I tried both the 2020030701 release and the updated 2020042001 with similar results.

          Booting up the FuryBSD live image we get a traditional black screen with Ascii style characters straight from the old days of computing. Such is the BSD heritage. There are a couple of options to boot into multi user (the default) or single user mode which allows us to go into text mode and also an option to abort. This is pretty much it. Unfortunately there is no way to start an installation from here so we’ll have to boot into the desktop. Once we hit that option the boot sequence commences, predictably old style and without obfuscation. Lots of text scrolling by but that’s ok with me.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Open Mainframe Project Unveils Major Technical Milestone with Zowe’s Long Term Support Release

          The Open Mainframe Project has announced that Zowe, an open source software framework for the mainframe that strengthens integration with modern enterprise applications, has marked a technical milestone with the first Long Term Support (LTS) release.

          The Open Mainframe Project launched Zowe, an open source project based on z/OS, in 2018 to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of administration, management and development tools on z/OS mainframes. The Zowe framework uses the latest web technologies among products and solutions from multiple vendors. Zowe enables developers to use familiar, industry-standard, open source tools to access mainframe resources and services.

          “Mainframes are the foundation of businesses in every industry,” said John Mertic, director of program management for the Linux Foundation and Open Mainframe Project. “Zowe continues to evolve rapidly due to numerous contributions from the open source community. The LTS release is our first major step into longevity and security that will offer innovative possibilities for the next generation of products and solutions.”

        • Christof Damian: My Workspace

          I like looking at pictures of other people’s office set-ups. With most people working from home at the moment you see more and more nice workspaces especially tuned for video conferencing.
          I was lucky enough to have a space and a reasonable set-up already. By chance I also had ordered bits and pieces before everything was sold out on Amazon.
          There are a few things I still want to improve. The light is not ideal for video conferencing and I am also going to try a separate microphone for better sound.

        • Improved systemd integration with Podman 2.0

          Podman is known for its tight and seamless integration into Linux systems. Staying true to the “containers are Linux” philosophy, we make containerization as easy as possible. A core component of modern Linux systems is systemd, which is the de-facto standard for managing services and their dependencies. Early on, we realized that a seamless integration of Podman and systemd is important to our users.

        • GNOME Internet Radio Locator 3.0.2 for Fedora Core 32

          GNOME Internet Radio Locator 3.0.2 features updated language translations, new, improved map marker palette and now also includes radio from Washington, United States of America; WAMU/NPR, London, United Kingdom; BBC World Service, Berlin, Germany; Radio Eins, Norway; NRK, and Paris, France; France Inter/Info/Culture, as well as 118 other radio stations from around the world with audio streaming implemented through GStreamer.

      • Debian Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Firefox 79 Is Now Available for Download with New Password Export Feature

            The Mozilla Firefox 79 web browser is now available for download ahead of tomorrow’s official launch with a new password export fearture and various other improvements.

            Firefox 79 entered public beta testing at the end of June 2020, shortly after Mozilla launched Firefox 78 as the newest ESR (Extended Support Release) series. Since then, the new release received a total of nine beta versions which brought just a handful of changes to out beloved web browser.

            One of the coolest new features of the Firefox 79 release is the ability to export saved passwords and logins to a CSV file without having to install a third-party extension like FF Password Exporter, which I saw featured in numerous tutorials all over the Web.

          • A-localized work or distributed work

            Jason Fried published Remote work is a platform. After a quick metaphor about the Web and how at the beginning of any ecosystem change, he explains how we have a tendency to port what we knew from the old ecosystem into the new ones, before being able to develop its own grammar and language. The case here is work in offices.

            [...]

            I wrote about the topic in This is not a remote work. While I hear Jason asking for people to create new techniques of working for the specific context of alocalized work (which I agree with), it probably goes deeper than just an « in-person office » versus « remote » work.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Community Member Monday: Sandra Louvero

          Today we’re talking to Sandra Louvero, who is helping to spread the word about LibreOffice and FOSS in Congo. Also, she recently became a Member of The Document Foundation, the non-profit entity behind LibreOffice…

          [...]

          In Pointe-Noire I belong to a community called “Librists”. Our goal is to help people discover the world of open source software here in Congo – which very few people know about. I am responsible for training people to use the LibreOffice suite, and we have named the training “SPRINT”, which lasts 60 days per component starting from Writer, Calc, Impress etc.

          The aim of this sprint is to help users learn the applications, and get their comments, to then bring back to the LibreOffice Francophone community, to which I also belong. Then we can continue to improve LibreOffice.

        • LibreOffice GSoC Week 8 Report

          Hello, I want to share with you the progress of this week. Last Week: Show More function is completely implemented. Searching is working without any problem using by threads. There is just a little problem about compiling in Windows machine, it will be solved as soon as possible. Patch This Week TODO: Sorting will be implemented using by search function, this will be easy thanks to search function.

      • Education

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • GnuCash 4.1

            GnuCash is a personal and small business finance application, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It’s designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible. GnuCash allows you to track your income and expenses, reconcile bank accounts, monitor stock portfolios and manage your small business finances. It is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.

            GnuCash can keep track of your personal finances in as much detail as you prefer. If you are just starting out, use GnuCash to keep track of your checkbook. You may then decide to track cash as well as credit card purchases to better determine where your money is being spent. When you start investing, you can use GnuCash to help monitor your portfolio. Buying a vehicle or a home? GnuCash will help you plan the investment and track loan payments. If your financial records span the globe, GnuCash provides all the multiple-currency support you need.

      • Programming/Development

        • How to use mmap function in C language?

          The mmap() function is used for mapping between a process address space and either files or devices. When a file is mapped to a process address space, the file can be accessed like an array in the program. This is one of the most efficient ways to access data in the file and provides a seamless coding interface that is natural for a data structure that can be assessed without he abstraction of reading and writing from files. In this article, we are going to discuss how to use the mmap() function in Linux. So, let’s get started.

        • What does it mean for code to “work”

          Extreme Programming co-founder Ron Jeffries famously wrote: “The trick is never to let the code not be working.”

          Jeffries’ quote points at the fact that software engineering is a very sophisticated activity with plenty of uncertainty. Software engineering also deals with issues of incompleteness—at the outset, you never seem to have all information you need to formulate an optimal approach. There always comes a time, later in the project, when you learn something that shows that several things in your initial understanding were incorrect. In addition, even when you amass sufficient useful information to orient yourself properly, that information tends to contain ambiguity—communication is seldom, if ever, clear. Ambiguity seems to prevail in both verbal and written communication.

          Because of these constraints, the only safe way to proceed when developing software is to rely on the working code. The running, working code is the final oracle. It will tell you if you’re doing the right thing and going in the right direction.

          [...]

          TDD is based on the idea that the way the code behaves should be independent from the way the code is structured. You are aiming at a desired behavior. While you’re writing code, the desired behavior is not there (that’s why it is called “desired”). You implement the desired behavior by first writing a test that describes it. Then you run that test, and it fails because the expected behavior is not implemented yet. The failure prompts you to fix it, which forces you to run the code again. If the changes you make to the code satisfy the expectations described in the test, you conclude that the code works according to your expectations.

        • Qt Creator 4.13 Beta2 released

          We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.13 Beta2 !

          For an overview of the improvements in Qt Creator 4.13, please head over to the first Beta blog post.

        • Perl/Raku

          • The [Perl] Weekly Challenge #070

            Before I talk about my contribution this week, I would like to talk about my encounter with Swift programming language recently. For the first time, I felt confident that I can share my Swift solution to the Character Swapping task of the Perl Weekly Challenge – 070. Why Task #1 only? Well, you guessed it correctly because it is meant for the beginners. With the submission of my first contribution in Guest Language, I now find myself in the Guest List as you must have seen in RECAPS every week. In the next edition of RECAPS, you would see my name in the list with other prominent guests. Ever since I started the Guest List, I always wanted to be a part of it but never had the courage to try new language other than Perl and Raku. While I am talking about Guest List, I would like to mention the first guest who started the trend was Orestis Zekai with the Python contributions in the Week #018.

          • Perl Weekly Challenge 70: Character Swapping and Gray Code Sequence

            These are some answers to the Week 70 of the Perl Weekly Challenge organized by Mohammad S. Anwar.

          • Next stable DBD::SQLite will be released at the end of August

            DBD::SQLite 1.65_03 (with SQLite 3.32.3) is a release candidate for the next stable DBD::SQLite. There are no big changes, maybe except for the ncrease of the default upper bound on the number of parameters from 999 to 32766 (since SQLite 3.32).

        • Python

        • Java

          • 5 open source IDE tools for Java

            Java frameworks make life easier for programmers by streamlining their work. These frameworks were designed and developed to run any application on any server environment; that includes dynamic behaviors in terms of parsing annotations, scanning descriptors, loading configurations, and launching the actual services on a Java virtual machine (JVM). Controlling this much scope requires more code, making it difficult to minimize memory footprint or speed up startup times for new applications. Regardless, Java consistently ranks in the top three of programming languages in use today with a community of seven to ten million developers in the TIOBE Index.

            With all that code written in Java, that means there are some great options for integrated development environments (IDE) to give developers all the tools needed to effectively write, lint, test, and run Java applications.

            Below, I introduce—in alphabetical order—my five favorite open source IDE tools to write Java and how to configure their basics.

  • Leftovers

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Donald Trump’s Misguided Attacks on WHO

        Withdrawing support of the WHO when a pandemic of enormous proportions is threatening the survival of millions of people is unethical.

      • COVID-19 and “super-spreaders”

        SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19, is a novel virus. It is undeniably true that science has made many discoveries about the virus and disease in record time (remember, the first cases were only reported only late last year in China), including isolating the offending coronavirus and sequencing its genome in record time, developing tests for it, and even finding potential treatments that appear to decrease mortality, such as dexamethasone and remdesivir. However, even with the rapid pace of discovery, some of it based on what we know about other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, and at times showing science at its messiest, thus leaving the door open to grifters and conspiracy theorists, there still remain many mysteries about COVID-19, how it is spread, how its spread can be prevented and slowed, and why a minority of people become ill with life-threatening disease while the majority do not, with a third or more having no symptoms at all, or symptoms so mild that they don’t think much of them. Enter the question of “super-spreaders.”

      • Dr. Fauci Says He and His Family Have Received Serious Threats: ‘Is This the United States of America?’

        Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he has received hate mail and death threats from U.S. residents who disagree with his health recommendations to curb transmission of the novel coronavirus. Some individuals, conceivably frustrated over the infectious disease expert’s ongoing push for virus mitigation—like widespread use of face masks, social distancing and adjusted reopening strategies—are harassing members of his family as well, he said last week.

      • ‘Ebola business’ concerns resurface as new Congo outbreak spreads

        As an outbreak of Ebola ratchets up in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s densely forested northwestern province of Équateur, warning signs are growing that corruption problems that dogged the last epidemic, in the conflict-torn east, risk being repeated.

        Eight weeks into the latest outbreak – which has infected 67 people and left 31 dead – several senior humanitarian officials involved in the response told The New Humanitarian that government officials have been trying to profit from relief funds, following a precedent set during the previous outbreak, which cost more than 2,200 lives between August 2018 and June 2020.

        When hundreds of millions of dollars were pumped into that response it kickstarted a local scramble to profit. Examples of what became known as “Ebola business” included vehicles being rented from elites at sky-high prices, and security services paying millions of dollars for military escorts.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation expands into the fight against COVID-19

                The Linux Foundation is joining the battle against COVID-19 with a program aimed at building on top of the foundational contact tracing work being done jointly by Google LLC and Apple Inc.

                The Linux Foundation Public Health initiative is launching with seven premier members and two hosted projects targeted at notifying public health officials of coronavirus exposure.

                The initiative is headed by Dan Kohn (pictured), who is moving over from his previous role as executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which nurtures the Kubernetes container orchestration platform and its large ecosystem. Kohn said he didn’t hesitate to shift away from heading up the thriving CNCF with its 560 members to a much smaller operation because of the life-saving opportunities.

        • Security

          • Security 101: Backups & Protecting Backups

            I can already hear some readers saying that backups are an IT problem, and not a security problem. The reality, of course, is that they’re both. Information security is commonly thought of in terms of the CIA Triad – that is, Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, and it’s important to remember those concepts when dealing with backups.

            We need look no farther than the troubles Garmin is having in dealing with a ransomware attack to find evidence that backups are critical. It’s unclear whether Garmin lacked adequate backups, had their backups ransomware’d, or is struggling to restore from backups. (It’s possible that they never considered an issue of this scale and simply aren’t resourced to restore this quickly, but given that the outage remains a complete outage after 4 days, I’d bet on one of those 3 conditions.)

            So what does a security professional need to know about backups? Every organization is different, so I’m not going to try to provide a formula or tutorial for how to do backups, but rather discuss the security concepts in dealing with backups.

            Before I got into security, I was both a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) and a Systems Administrator, so I’ve had my opportunities to think about backups from a number of different directions. I’ll try to incorporate both sides of that here.

          • The Case Against Full-Disk Encryption

            Like with any industry, the information security industry, more commonly referred to as “cybersecurity,” for all its raging debates, has rallied around a small corpus of best practices.

            One of the highest on this list is full-disk encryption, which security experts regard as sacrosanct, a no-brainer that everyone should use at the barest of minimums. This is the encryption that ensures that someone who snatches your device won’t be able to know everything you’ve got saved on it.

            I’m here to make the case that most of you are better off not using it. I know this might sound crazy, since I’m kind of the security guy here, but hear me out.

            I am in no way about to talk you out of using encryption — without it, the digital tools that we rely on every day would be unusable. That’s why I’m not arguing against encryption, period; but specifically against full-disk encryption, and only for certain users.

            What I contend is that, for most people facing the overwhelmingly most common use cases, full-disk encryption is overkill. These users enjoy no measurable gain in security compared to alternative data at rest encryption, yet they pay for it with a measurable performance hit. This isn’t just a matter of efficiency or load times, but literal increased cost to users, too.

            Alternatives exist which afford normal everyday users, with normal everyday security concerns, a level of protection commensurate with what full-disk encryption offers. They are admittedly a bit off the beaten path, as most consumer tech companies have adopted full-disk encryption, but they’re out there.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • The world’s leading brands jump on the direct-selling bandwagon

              But firms that build their own direct-to-consumer operations can exert more control by keeping their sales channels in-house, something that the start-up pioneers of the business model came to value. The consumer data that brands can collect by selling on their own sites are simply too good to pass up. Since 2018, Nike has bought two data-analytics firms to help measure and track data collected from online shoppers. Last year it ended a two-year pilot programme wholesaling through Amazon, choosing to direct all to e-commerce sales through its own website.

              Data may be an even more important consideration for big food brands’ recent direct-to-consumer aspirations. They are less reliant on digital sales, and the webshops, being so new, will account for only a small portion of revenue for the foreseeable future. PepsiCo did not even mention its two new websites in its second-quarter earnings release on July 13th. But the firm may glean insights even from even limited purchases. Gibu Thomas, PepsiCo’s head of global e-commerce, says the company plans to use the data not only to customise online offerings but to inform in-store selling strategies as well. Information can be hard to collect from shoppers buying chips from their local supermarket or corner shop. Rather than relying on market-research reports, firms with direct sales can monitor consumers’ behaviour on their own websites. “What is different about this,” Mr Thomas said in May upon the shops’ launch, “is we’re getting data on what people are doing versus what they say they will do.”

    • Defence/Aggression

      • How a police spy’s stunning testimony threatens the official US-Israeli AMIA bombing narrative

        Infiltration, torture, anti-Semitic conspiracies

      • COVID-19 fuels tensions between Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi hosts

        Prices have soared. Wages have fallen. Why overlooking local community grievances could add new roadblocks to the refugee response.

        [...]

        The coronavirus pandemic is aggravating tensions between Rohingya refugees and local communities in Bangladesh, underscoring long-held grievances on the margins of the massive aid response.

        Bangladesh’s COVID-19 outbreak has escalated steadily since March, and nationwide lockdowns have shattered the economy in Cox’s Bazar, already one of the country’s poorest districts.

        Increasingly, distrust and stigmatisation have been aimed at Rohingya refugees accused of carrying the virus. Aid groups report a rise in anti-Rohingya hate speech and racism, as well as “rapidly deteriorating security dynamics” between the two communities.

        “There is a huge panic. The number of infected people is higher among the Rohingya,” said Mustafa Kamal Chowdhury, the head teacher at a high school in Cox’s Bazar, repeating one common claim. “The refugees and NGOs are hiding the information about infections.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • We’re Publishing Thousands of Police Discipline Records That New York Kept Secret for Decades

        Until last month, New York state prohibited the release of police officers’ disciplinary records. Civilians’ complaints of abuse by officers were a secret. So were investigators’ conclusions. The public couldn’t even know if an officer was punished.

        The New York City police officer whose use of a prohibited chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner in 2014 had a record of misconduct. Garner’s last words — “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

      • Fox News Touting QAnon Is All You Need to Know About the So-Called ‘News’ Network

        As NBC News’ Ben Collins, who covers media/tech and conspiracy extremists, wrote on Twitter: “Q has not ‘uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to Epstein and when it comes to the Deep State.’ The Epstein reporting was by actual reporters at newspapers, bastardized by Q to fit a narrative about Satanic child cannibalism. Deeply irresponsible garbage by Fox News.”

    • Environment

      • The Next Election Is About the Next 10,000 Years

        Dramatic climate action is critical because we’re about to cross tipping points that are not reversible.

      • Energy

        • FirstEnergy Scandal is Latest Example of Utility Corruption, Deceit

          Federal agents arrested Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, along with several lobbyists, on July 21 on charges that the group used $60 million of funds provided by the monopoly utility FirstEnergy Corp. in exchange for passing a law that bailed out that company’s nuclear and coal plants. 

        • How the world’s smelliest fruit could power your phone

          The “Lithium Triangle” region of the Andes – which includes parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile – contains a little over half of the world’s natural resources of the metal. But extracting it from the salty flats requires water – lots of water. In Chile’s Salar de Atacama region, around one million litres of water are used in the mining process to produce just 900kg of lithium. The process involves purifying the metal-rich salts by progressively dissolving them in water, filtering and then evaporating the brine until pure lithium salt is obtained. Environmental bodies run by the Chilean government, however, have warned that metal mining – mainly of lithium and copper – in the region is using more water than is replaced by snow and rainfall.

          To overcome this researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are working on batteries that use different metals in the anode, like calcium or magnesium. Calcium is the fifth-most-abundant element in the earth’s crust and is unlikely to suffer from the same supply concerns as lithium, but research to improve the performance of batteries using it is still in its infancy. Magnesium is also showing promising initial results, especially in terms of its energy density, and there are plans to commercialise in the future.

          But there are some who are looking at even more readily available materials, including wood. Liangbing Hu, director of the Center for Materials Innovation at University of Maryland, recently constructed a battery using porous, holey pieces of wood as the electrodes, within which metal ions react to generate an electrical charge. Wood is plentiful, low cost and lightweight, and is showing high performance potential in batteries. The latest batteries follow years of research into wood’s capabilities to store energy, including coating wood cellulose fibres in tin. As wood has naturally evolved to be permeable to nutrients as they are transported around the plant, the material makes electrodes with the ability to store metal ions without the risk of swelling or shrinking dangerously, as can occur with lithium ion battery electrodes.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Casket of Rep. John Lewis Carried Across Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 Years After Selma’s Bloody Sunday

        “An incredibly moving and fitting tribute for John Lewis, a man who carried the baton of justice until the very end.”

      • Federal Crackdown in Portland Provokes Solidarity Protests Across the Country

        “This is my first protest,” said a 45-year-old woman who joined the “Wall of Moms” at a Saturday demonstration in Seattle.

      • Giving Police Departments Money to Buy Body Cameras Will Never End Brutality

        More than six months after having killed 27-year-old Brandon Roberts at his home, police in Milford, Delaware, are still refusing to release the footage from their body cameras.

      • Legal Complaint Against Venmo Challenges Anti-Muslim Discrimination

        No one should have to justify what they ate for lunch and why after dining out with friends, just because they are Muslim, Arab or South Asian. But that’s the sad reality for many New Yorkers who are regularly singled out when they make payments, and the reason why our organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York (CAIR-NY), is representing Brooklyn native and community organizer Shahana Hanif in a discrimination complaint against payment processor Venmo before the New York City Commission on Human Rights, filed on July 21. The types of restrictions placed on certain transactions amount to profiling, lead to embarrassing social stigmas, and are an unacceptable and discriminatory barrier for whole groups of people to enjoy the same access to services as others.

      • Love, Death and Revolution in a time of Covid-19

        ‘You don’t understand… It is the secret called Poetry that is the most dangerous About my being’– Revolutionary Telegu poet Varavara Rao, 81, battling COVID-19 after being jailed by the Modi govt on what analysts believe are trumped-up charges. Harsha Prabhu takes up the story.

      • White House Privately Warned 11 Cities to Take “Aggressive” Action Against COVID

        Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned state and local leaders in a private phone call Wednesday that 11 major cities are seeing increases in the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 and should take “aggressive” steps to mitigate their outbreaks.

      • A cap on income might seem radical — but it was once a mainstream idea in American politics

        His argument was summed up in a single quote:

        Indeed in these days, when every available dollar should go to the war effort, I do not think that any American citizen should have a net income in excess of $25,000 per year after payment of taxes.

        The context is important here: America was in the middle of fighting World War II and still struggled with the lingering socioeconomic trauma of the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s goal was to keep the cost of living down, and he advocated a number of measures to achieve this. In addition to establishing a cap on income, he also wanted to increase corporate taxes, establish price and rent ceilings, ration essential commodities and stabilize wages, among other things. The immediate objective was helping Americans economically survive the crises of global war and economic catastrophe, although as he made clear in his 1944 State of the Union address, he also wanted to lay the foundations for protecting Americans’ economic rights over the long term.

      • Review: Rise of the Warrior Cop

        As the United States tries, in fits and starts, to have a meaningful discussion about long-standing police racism, brutality, overreach, corruption, and murder, I’ve realized that my theoretical understanding of the history of and alternative frameworks for law enforcement is woefully lacking. Starting with a book by a conservative white guy is not the most ideal of approaches, but it’s what I already had on hand, and it won’t be the last book I read and review on this topic. (Most of my research so far has been in podcast form. I don’t review those here, but I can recommend Ezra Klein’s interviews with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Butler, and, most strongly, sujatha baliga.)

        Rise of the Warrior Cop is from 2013 and has had several moments of fame, no doubt helped by Balko’s connections to the conservative and libertarian right. One of the frustrating facts of US politics is that critiques of the justice system from the right (and from white men) get more media attention than critiques from the left. That said, it’s a generally well-respected book on the factual history of the topic, and police brutality and civil rights are among the points on which I have stopped-clock agreements with US libertarians.

        [...]

        This book is useful support for the argument that fears for the safety of officers underlying the militarization of police forces are imaginary. One telling point that Balko makes repeatedly and backs with statistical and anecdotal evidence is that the police generally do not use raid tactics on dangerous criminals. On the contrary, aggressive raids are more likely to be used on the least dangerous criminals because they’re faster, they’re fun for the police (they provide an adrenaline high and let them play with toys), and they’re essentially risk-free. If the police believe someone is truly dangerous, they’re more likely to use careful surveillance and to conduct a quiet arrest at an unexpected moment. The middle-of-the-night armed break-ins with battering rams, tear gas, and flash-bangs are, tellingly, used against the less dangerous suspects.

        This is part of Balko’s overall argument that police equipment and tactics have become untethered from any realistic threat and have become cultural. He traces an acceleration of that trend to 9/11 and the resulting obsession with terrorism, which further opened the spigot of military hardware and “special forces” training. This became a point of competition between police departments, with small town forces that had never seen a terrorist and had almost no chance of a terrorist incident demanding their own armored vehicles. I’ve encountered this bizarre terrorism justification personally; one of the reasons my local police department gave in a public hearing for not having a policy against shooting at moving vehicles was “but what if terrorism?” I don’t believe there has ever been a local terrorist attack.

    • Monopolies

      • Understanding Amazon: Making the 21st-Century Gatekeeper Safe for Democracy

        In 1994, Jeff Bezos left his job at the giant hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and with help from a $250,000 loan from his parents, launched a new online bookseller named Amazon. His then-boss at D.E. Shaw later explained that Bezos sought, from the very beginning, to create a monopoly. “The idea was always that someone would be allowed to make a profit as an intermediary,” he said. “The key question is: Who will get to be that middleman?” [1] Early Amazon employees confirmed this view, noting that Bezos’s “underlying goals were not to build an online bookstore or an online retailer, but rather a ‘utility’ that would become essential to commerce.”[2]

        The thesis of this paper is that Jeff Bezos succeeded. His corporation is now a middleman in multiple sectors of the economy, setting the terms and conditions by which Americans conduct online commerce. The paper describes how Amazon is a commercial and political institution that has flourished within a particular regulatory model, attempts to demystify Amazon’s unfair and abusive behavior, and summarizes some of its most pernicious effects.

      • Patents

        • Academic spotlight (II): Borghetti, Nikolic and Petit on FRAND licensing levels
        • Another CJEU ruling on standard-essential patents and FRAND looks inevitable

          Cars and other motor vehicles operate such sophisticated communication technologies that today they operate almost like “smartphones on wheels”. This dependency on electronic communication means auto-manufacturers require access to the latest 4G and 5G standards essential to navigation and communications. Of course, these essential technologies are often patented and thus there are a range of standard-essential patents that require licensing. When the companies that hold the patents and the manufacturers who seek to make use of the tech cannot agree on the terms (in line with commitments to FRAND licensing) patent disputes are inevitable.

          In Europe high profile battles often involve Nokia, the Finnish telecoms giant and major 4G and 5G developer, over licences for patented technologies that are essential to standards for navigation, vehicle communications and self-driving cars. Nokia’s patent enforcement strategy could be described as assertive or even aggressive, depending on your point of view. In late 2019, a group of 27 companies, including Daimler, Ford, BMW, Dell, Cisco, Continental, Lenovo and Sky complained to the European Commission about alleged abuses of the patent system that they claimed could jeopardise the development of self-driving vehicles and relevant connected devices.

          Although the complaint did not mention Nokia by name, it clearly pointed the finger at the Finnish multinational and its refusal to license its standard essential patents to car companies and component suppliers on terms viewed as FRAND by the potential licensees. In particular, the companies believe the licensing fees demanded by Nokia are too high, even to the extent of amounting to an illegal abuse of a dominant position under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (thereby violating EU competition rules). In the seminal 2015 case Huawei v ZTE, the EU’s top court found that every player is entitled to obtain a patent licence for standard technology on fair and reasonable terms.

          [...]

          The Federal Cartel Office can participate in German court proceedings in form of “amicus curiae” pursuant to Section 90 of the German Act against Restraints of Competition ex offico though they usually are submitted in proceedings before the highest German courts. The courts are of course not obliged to follow the Office’s proposed action but the Mannheim court notably postponed the envisaged delivery of the judgment from June 23, 2020 to August 04th 2020 following the Office’s statement. This could be seen as an indication that the Court is seriously considering calling the CJEU to decide in the hope that it gives clarity to this complex area.

          The 2015 Huawei ruling, while praised for its balanced approach, was also criticised for being too vague in some respects (e.g. the requirement for parties to negotiate in ‘good faith’), in particular in the present scenarios where many companies are involved in a supply chain for a complex product. Any new ruling on the above questions would undoubtedly be less ‘balanced’ as the CJEU would need to make the hard decisions on supply chains, components and end-users – the very decisions it avoided skilfully in the 2015 ruling.

        • Software Patents

          • Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2020)

            Last week, in Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC, the Federal Circuit ruled that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board may consider patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for substitute claims. The appeal raises issues of finality as well as the Board’s authority. Judge O’Malley filed a dissenting opinion—nearly as long as the majority opinion—on both issues, which may signal that this case could be headed for rehearing. Judge O’Malley stated that as a result of the Court’s decision, “when it comes to substitute claims, the Board can engage in full-blown examination.”

            The parties were involved in parallel district court litigation and IPR related to U.S. Patent No. 8,566,960 (the ’960 patent). In the IPR appealed from here, the Board issued a Final Written Decision, concluding that all of the granted ’960 claims were unpatentable and denying Uniloc’s motion to amend because the proposed substitute claims were patent ineligible. Hulu opposed the proposed substitute claims on multiple grounds, including § 101.

            Meanwhile, the District Court dismissed Uniloc’s complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), concluding that the ’960 claims were invalid for lack of patentable subject matter. The Federal Circuit summarily affirmed and Uniloc did not file a cert. petition in the Supreme Court.

            [...]

            Going forward, it will be interesting to see how often § 101 is used to oppose and deny motions to amend in IPR and whether resolving motions to amend becomes “full-blown examination” as Judge O’Malley predicts.

      • Trademarks

        • What’s in a Name? International Olympic Committee to Lose “Pierre de Coubertin” Trade Mark

          Baron Pierre de Coubertin is widely known as the father of the modern Olympic Games and the founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an organization he presided over almost 30 years.

          The IOC filed for trade mark protection of its founder’s name in classes 9, 14, 16, 25, 35, 36, 38, 41 and 42 only less than 20 years ago in Switzerland, the country where the IOC has its seat. The word marks “DE COUBERTIN” and “PIERRE DE COUBERTIN” were granted without opposition in 2002. What happened after was the subject of two recent decisions (here and here) of the Swiss Trademark Office (Federal Institute of Intelectual Property, FIIP), currently under appeal with the Federal Administrative Court.

          In 2017, Tempting Brands Netherlands BV filed a cancellation request with the FIIP, arguing that neither of the two “DE COUBERTIN” marks has ever been put to genuine use (see the Katpost here on the Australian episode of the saga between Tempting and the IOC). Under Swiss law, if a trade mark is not put to genuine use for five years without having valid reasons for the non-use, anyone can file a cancellation request with the FIIP.

          The IOC argued that it had indeed put its founder’s name to use as a distinctive sign. “Pierre de Coubertin” has been used, inter alia, on a series of products sold in the shop of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, in an online game and to designate a medal awarded “to those athletes, former athletes, sports promoters, sporting officials and others who exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship in Olympic events or through exceptional service to the Olympic movement”.

          The FIIP countered that none of this pointed to “Pierre de Coubertin” being used as a distinctive sign. The use of the name in books, DVDs and the like does not qualify as use as a distinctive sign, because “Pierre de Coubertin” is used as a reference to the content of the products rather than serving as a badge of origin. The same, they claim, is true regarding postcards, key rings, T-shirts and stamps sold at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, where the IOC’s founder’s name is used as a reference to the person pictured on the product, not to the origin of the goods. With regard to the online game, the IOC has failed to provide evidence of any users in Switzerland.

      • Copyrights

        • The AG Opinion in YouTube/Cyando: a regressive interpretation of the right of communication to the public

          Possibly (though no questions have been expressly referred on this point), the CJEU will also consider a central aspect of the AG Opinion, that is the relationship between Article 17 of the DSM Directive (not applicable to the facts at hand) and the pre-2019 acquis. According to the AG, Article 17 has introduced into EU law a new liability regime for what the DSM Directive calls ‘online content sharing service providers’, which is not merely a clarification of the pre-existing law as, instead, suggested by recital 64 in the preamble therein.

          In light of the foregoing, it is apparent that the resulting CJEU judgment in YouTube/Cyando has the potential to be key to different areas of copyright law and, more generally, the online intermediary regime (currently also under discussion on a policy level, in the context of the forthcoming EU Digital Services Act).

          Having read (and digested) the 256-paragraph AG Opinion (if you print it, it’s a mere 62 pages), one also realizes that it would be quite challenging to summarize it in a single blog post. That is why the Court’s press release is so great.

          This said, in this blog post I will share my initial thoughts regarding the AG’s construction of the right of communication to the public under Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive.

        • ‘No, Pirate Bay Uploaders Should Not Get Paid!’

          A Pirate Bay user recently suggested that the iconic torrent site should pay uploaders for their work. A controversial idea that wasn’t well-received among the TPB staff, to say the least. This ignited an amusing discussion that touched on copyrighted torrents, paid downloaders, self-entitled children, and much more.

        • ‘Pirate’ Anime Domains Seized By Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment

          The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy alliance featuring the studios of the MPA, Netflix and Amazon, has taken control of at least 10 domains previously connected to anime piracy. The seizures are the latest in a long line of actions that ACE and the MPA have chosen not to publicize.

IBM Racism Explained by an Insider

Posted in IBM at 7:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM is not BLM

Summary: If history matters, then people need to know and to understand where grievances came from and why

[Published 7 months ago]

IBM blacks

Also see: IBM’s Watson Also Consciously Profited From Eugenics (and This Tradition Carries on in 2020)

IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 26, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:55 am by Needs Sunlight

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